2013 Subway Fit Fresh 500 at Pheonix International Speedway: 10 Things that Spun Our Wheels

Carl Edwards Wins Subway Fit Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Speedway

With the 2013 Subway Fit Fresh 500 at Phoenix International Speedway, there are more problems with the Gen-6 cars for all the driving teams and all the manufacturers. Carl Edwards wins the Subway Fit Fresh 500 and breaks his winless streak of two seasons.

  • Gen-6 Wheel Issues. The braking on these Gen-6 cars taxes the wheels tremendously.  Several cars went out from this problem. 
  • Gen-6 Four-Wheel vs. Two-Wheel Pit Stops. While the four-wheel changes usually provide a lot of grip, they don’t provide a lot of speed as before.  Perhaps it is best to do two-wheel pit stops going forward. 
  • Pole Position.  For these new cars, the driver at pole position maybe leads one or two laps — then they fall behind.  But that’s nothing new to NASCAR
  • Danica Patrick The drama continues.  Her driving skills has not.
  • Rick Stenhouse Jr. He has made an impressive jump in the standings as he is ninth on the leaderboard.
  • Hendrick Motorsports. Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. currently lead in points.  It’s only two races in, but it’s still impressive. 
  • Last Lap Racing. This seems to be the trend as this is when real racing in NASCAR begins and ends.  It’s nothing new to NASCAR, but it’s something new to these Gen-6 cars.
  • Clint Bowyer. Slow the heck down when in the pits, dude.  Less casualties involving your crew members that way — and more communication is always helpful.
  • Carl Edwards. Finally broke 70-race skid and the two-season drought…those Subway sandwiches finally do some good.
  • Side-Drafting. The Gen-6 cars work fairly decently as side-drafting goes, but they are still loose.  Trading paint isn’t intentional like before but accidental often than not.  The Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway will put these cars to a real test of their mettle.

Now onto the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway…

The 2011 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway: Post-Race Analysis

This race is the appetizer before the Great American Race, the Daytona 500, next Sunday.  This also gives the Sprint Cup drivers and teams to adjust to the newly paved Daytona International Speedway from engines, drafting partners and fuel changes.  Lastly, it gives NASCAR fans a relatively brief race to watch although it will progress late through the night.

This race still doesn’t compare to the festivities and the drama surrounding the Daytona 500 next week. Now to the post-race analysis:

  • Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had the pole in the beginning but dropped again to 3rd.  It’s not as bad as some of actual Sprint Cup races where he fell  into the middle of the pack and could not recover beyond 15th or so.
  • Pairings of cars helps picks up speed, particularly against an aggressive pack of drivers behind you.
  • Jeff Burton got 1st place and Matt Kenseth got 4th on the first 25 laps of this race.  Both are X-factors when the season officially begins next week.
  • On lap 29 of the Shootout, Regan Smith initially collided with Carl Edwards.  Edwards then clipped Dale Earnhardt Jr. rear bumper and started a whole spillover including Juan Pablo Montoya, Joey Logano and others.  I think this looks like the forecast for the Dayton 500.
  • Two-car drafting works most of the time, but when it doesn’t work, it causes severe wrecks.
  • Jimmie Johnson is still the man of the Sprint Cup Series.  He led the race at 3/4ths of the race at lap 50.
  • Jeff Gordon stuck around 5th or so in the early part of the second segment.  It appeared he was biding his time for his final move in the last few laps of the Shootout, but it didn’t come to fruition.

Kurt Busch won the Budweiser Shootout, partially from Denny Hamlin‘s drive through the boundary line for the lead.  The dual car tandems were the theme of this race, and the average speed of this race seemed to swing from 195 mph to 205 mph.

The Great American Race is on next Sunday, and it will be interesting to see how the adjustments made this week will affect the Daytona 500.

My Top 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup Drivers to Watch in 2011 Season: The Quick and Dirty Edition

This is my list of top 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers to watch in 2011, given their current trends over the past three to five seasons.  This is not based on any current adjustments to their respective teams, engines, cars or other factors currently internally or externally, such as the new points systems.

Now to my top 10 list of NASCAR Sprint Cup Drivers, in no particular order:

  • Jimmie Johnson (48) of  the Chad Knaus/Hendrick Motorsports Team.  He’s won five straight Sprint Cup championships and going for a sixth.
  • Tony Stewart (14) of the Darian Grubb/Stewart-Haas Racing Team. He’s been mostly consistent remaining in 7th through the 9th in standings the past three years.  He should do more of the same this season.
  • Clint Bowyer (33) of the Shane Wilson/Richard Childress Racing Team. His team has not been consistent, but he’s always found ways to remain in the Chase.  However, he has remained in the top 10 three out of five recent seasons.
  • Jeff Gordon (24) of the Steve Letarte/Hendrick Motorsports Team. He’s been minimally the top 10 the past five years, if not in the top 5.  He should do the same this season, as his team has always demonstrated success.
  • Carl Edwards (99) of the Bob Osborne/Roush Fenway Racing Team.  His team has either been in the top 3 or in the top 10 the past years, but he has demonstrated inconsistency.  If football or hockey are indication the changing nature of sports, his team might have a chance for a real push this season.
  • Denny Hamlin (11) of the Mike Ford/Joe Gibbs Racing Team. Since 2007, his team has been making real strides to becoming 2nd in the standings in 2010 again — like he was in 2006.  Whereas some of these teams have been simply inconsistent, this team has been consistently getting better.
  • Kyle Busch (18) of the Dave Rogers/Joe Gibbs Racing Team. He has always remained in the bottom rungs of the top 10 standings, but he has remained in the Chase for the past five years.  He could be another one to watch out for this upcoming season.

NASCAR‘s X-Factors

For the last three of my top 10, these drivers are always within reach of the top 10 over the past years, and this year, they may be troublesome to rest the field for their shadows always hanging within reach to make a serious mark upon the Sprint Cup Chase.

  • Jeff Burton (31) of the Todd Berrier/Richard Childress Racing Team.
  • Matt Kenseth (17) of the Jimmy Fennig/Roush Fenway Racing Team.
  • Kurt Busch (22) of the Steve Addington/Penske Racing Team. Although not quite as successful as his brother Kyle, he does stay within reach of the Chase.